Tags: low | calorie | diet | heart | health

Low-cal Diet Keeps Heart Young

Friday, 08 June 2012 01:05 PM

Eat less. It’s a simple strategy, but it may be the best way to keep your heart healthy, according to a new study of the benefits of restricted-calorie diets.
Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have found people who limit their caloric intake – to about 70 percent of the calories consumed in a typical American diet -- have hearts that function more like those in people who are 20 years younger.
The findings, published in the journal Aging Cell, indicate a key measure of the heart's ability to adapt to exercise, stress, sleep and other factors that influence the rate it pumps blood doesn't decline as rapidly in people who have significantly restricted their caloric intake for an average of seven years.
"This is really striking because in studying changes in heart rate variability, we are looking at a measurement that tells us a lot about the way the autonomic nervous system affects the heart," said lead researcher Dr. Luigi Fontana. "And that system is involved not only in heart function, but in digestion, breathing rate and many other involuntary actions. We would hypothesize that better heart rate variability may be a sign that all these other functions are working better, too."
The findings are based on tests of 22 people on low-calorie diets whose heart function was tracked by portable heart monitors. The study participants ate healthy diets but consumed 30 percent fewer calories than normal. Their average age was just over 51. For comparison, researchers also studied 20 other people who ate standard Western diets.
They found those on restricted diets had fewer heart problems. In addition, their heart rate variability was significantly higher – meaning the heart can adjust to changing needs more readily, which is an indicator of cardiovascular health.
The study was funded, in part, by the National Institutes of Health.

© HealthDay

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People who limit the calories they consume by 30 percent have healthier hearts.
Friday, 08 June 2012 01:05 PM
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